As the taxi nears our rented apartment in the heart of old Seville, it’s impossible not to be affected by the buzz in the streets.
Bars and restaurants teem with diners, while others stroll the cobbled thoroughfares enjoying the afternoon sun. I can’t wait to drop my bags off and explore. For the next five weeks I will attend Spanish school each morning and discover Seville each afternoon. You may not have five weeks, but in just a few days you can experience the essence of one of Spain’s most fascinating and historic cities. Seville will surely capture your heart.
One word of warning: the city gets very hot in summer. The locals leave in droves. Try to plan your trip for spring or autumn.
Enjoy this Seville travel guide.
Ways to relax in Seville
The sound of horses’ hooves clip-clopping on the cobblestones echoes through the streets of central Seville day and night, and a relaxing ride in one of the many beautiful horse-drawn carriages will orientate you to the main sights.
When you’re ready to take a break from sightseeing, pay a visit to the luxurious Aire de Sevilla hamman (Arabic bath). It’s tucked away in a side street. A remnant of Moorish culture, bathhouses like this one offer body scrubs, massages and the chance to enjoy a languid soak in a warm pool.
Tapas is an integral part of Seville’s social scene. Enjoy a cerveza (beer) or vino tinto (red wine) and tapas at one of the many small bars dotted around the old centre. I loved the quaint Bar Alfalfa and Bar Rinconcillo — which was established in 1670 and claims to be the oldest restaurant in Spain.
An evening drink on the rooftop of the EME Catedrale Hotel provides wonderful views of the Seville Cathedral and the Giralda (bell tower). Get there before 11pm (when the cathedral lights are turned off).
Seville for history lovers
A highlight of any visit to Seville is climbing the Giralda — a minaret-turned-bell-tower — for superb views across the city.
Before the Spaniards conquered the Moors, a muezzin would ride up the ramp on a donkey five times a day to call the faithful to prayer.
The beautiful Cathedral houses the tomb of Christopher Columbus. Avoid the long queues by purchasing a combined ticket at the nearby Church of the Divine Salvador (also worth a visit). Ticket in hand, you can enter the Cathedral via the group entrance and bypass the long queue.
Lining up for the Royal Alcazar Palace (home to the Spanish Royals when in Seville) can also be avoided by booking online (it’s well worth the small additional admin fee). After viewing the magnificent halls take a relaxing stroll through the gardens. It’s worth devoting a full morning to the Palace.
The ceramic tilework of the Plaza de España (built for the 1929 Ibero-American expo) is not to be missed. Each of the 48 alcoves houses a ceramic tiled tableau from a Spanish province.
Top cultural experiences in Seville
Enjoy the colour and spirit of a traditional flamenco show during your stay.
On the advice of a local contact, we went to Los Gallos for an energetic and professional 1.45-hour display of dance, music and song. While more expensive than other shows (€35 including a glass of wine), we weren’t disappointed. Less expensive options include ‘free’ shows at various restaurants (but you’re still expected to pay something to the performers).
Not a supporter of bullfighting, I nevertheless visited the Plaza de Toros for an insight into a Spanish custom that dates back centuries. You can visit the museum without actually seeing a bullfight.
Great places to eat in Seville
Seville has no shortage of fabulous places to eat.
Here’s just a handful of places we tried and loved.
Slightly more upmarket than standard bars, El Pinton, La Azotea (there are a few locations) and Eslava offer interesting and innovative tapas menus. Ask your waiter for their recommendations. As these restaurants are very popular, either arrive early or be prepared to wait.
We also visited La Cantina outside Mercado de Feria more than once for their chiperones (baby squid) and tortillitas de camerones (shrimp fritters), washed down with the requisite local drop.
Where to shop in Seville
Fresh food markets are a way of life for the local population in Seville.
Wander the aisles at Mercado de Triana and perhaps book into a cooking class to learn the secret to whipping up the perfect paella.
Souvenirs shops abound the city and a ceramic plate, tile or fan will make a great memento of your trip. The beautiful displays make window shopping a pleasure in itself.
It’s worth taking a stroll down Calle Sierpes and Calle Tetuan, which are home to clothing boutiques and interesting shops.
Do you have any tips to add to our Seville travel guide? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
Joanne Karcz is a Sydney-based writer and blogger. She published a blog when she walked the Camino de Santiago some years ago and has been writing about her travels ever since. She is also an aspiring travel photographer and takes her camera wherever she goes. Joanne has travelled through Europe, South America and Southern Africa. She loves discovering new things to see and do in her own Sydney backyard, and blogs regularly about the city’s suburbs.